Sharmili Mallick

Keonjhar: More than 500 members of Naba Nirman Krushak Sangathan (NNKS) including women, who were coming to Bhubaneswar to attend the ‘Jan Satyagraha Padayatra’ which was scheduled to kickoff from today, were reportedly taken into preventive custody near Keonjhar railway station early morning today.

The co-ordinator of NNKS Subash Panda has also been detained by the police, informed NKSS convenor Akshay Kumar.

Many farmers who were coming from Kuakhia in Jajpur and Balugaon in Khurda district to attend the foot march have also been stopped by the police, reports said.

“Police are behaving like hooligans and did not allow us to even cook food. They also threatened to arrest us,” alleged Member of Aanchalika Swagat Committee, Sangram Kishore.

“The padyatra was scheduled to start from today. Arrangements were made for farmers at a place in Kuakhia for dinner last night. But police reached the spot and seized the firewood. The officials also threatened to arrest them,” alleged Kumar.

Earlier, the NNKS had announced to hold two padyatras from October 29 to November 5 demanding fair price, pension and prestige for 36 lakh farmers of the State.

One padayatra was scheduled to start from Kuakhia in Jajpur district and another from Balugaon, before culminating in Bhubaneswar.

“The way farmers are being arrested, I feel emergency has been declared. Do not we have the freedom of speech? If this continues, it is a threat to democracy,” added Kumar.

On the other hand, officials of government and police department are yet to comment on the matter.

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